The Albany Planning Commission will do something unusual Monday — considering permitting an apartment house that has been an apartment house for a long time.
The commission will hold a hearing on an application to “convert an existing structure” at 1127-1195 Sixth Ave. S.E. into a multifamily building with 13 units.
If you go past the place in the 1100 block of Sixth Avenue S.E., as I did last week, you’ll see that apartments are already there, and have been for a long time. I went around the building and counted 13 doors with address numbers.
The building, a former warehouse, was turned into apartments several years ago without the required approvals, according to the staff report to the planning commission. County tax records include a notation that the property was listed in 1994 as having 10 apartments completed and three or four “roughed in.”
A conditional use permit is required for apartments in the “Main Street” zoning district, which covers this location. The staff report says the city has a “compliance case” on the property. The current application seems to be the result.
The planning staff says the application meets the requirements of the development code. They recommend approval with conditions.
One condition is completion of a sidewalk, curbs and gutters along the frontage on Sixth Avenue.
The property is owned by Bash Residential LLC of Portland, which bought it for $700,000 in 2017. A management firm from Tigard filed for the conditional use permit.
The planning commission meeting starts at 5:15 p.m. Monday. It should be the last to be held remotely, via the Internet. Any day now the state’s restrictions related to Covid are supposed to end. (hh)
Postscript: The planning commission held its hearing as scheduled and unanimously approved the conditional use permit. There was no public comment and no debate. The applicant’s representative said the project would bring the apartments up to code and make no major other changes.
Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Twenty-five years ago, a real estate investor from a far-away city buys an old warehouse and converts it into an illegal apartment complex. All of the work is done without approvals or inspections. It is difficult for me to imagine that the work was done following building codes; why would it be? And now, all these years later, the owners of the building come forward (through a separate consulting firm) to ask not only for forgiveness of all the years of deceitfulness, but to be rewarded for all of their past mis-deeds. The approval of this project will, of course, allow the building owners to sell the “apartment complex” on the open market, no doubt reaping tremendous profits.
This is the sort of situation that causes a loss of respect and confidence in government. Just give the crooks what they want, after all, they are simply being good entrepreneurs, working hard, building housing for people.
Good grief. This represents capitalism at its worst. And please note: I’m a capitalist.
This scenario pretty much sums-up how capitalism functions in contemporary America. Rig the zoning laws to perpetuate the status quo. Reward misbehavior with even more opportunities to profit. As the cops say at the scene of a crime, “Nothing to see here folks.”
I would suggest you are being a little harsh with the current owners of the property. The best I can tell, Veal & Sons, Manufacturing closed their doors in 1982. Most of the conversion happened by 1994 under whose ownership is not explained. Fast forward another 23 years, Bash Residentials, LLC purchased the converted property for no small sum in 2017. The fact that they are located in Portland indicates that local money didn’t feel up to the deal. Did they know it was out of compliance or
did they gamble that compliance was fixable ? I won’t hazard a guess. Had the conversion been done to building code? Maybe so maybe not. But I would assume the Planning staff would not recommend approval of the request if it were not.
So, who is at fault ? Those in planning and building compliance positions have had plenty of time to identify the compliance shortcomings of the apartment building. The investor did what investors do, put up some money in the hopes of appreciation.
I think the city probably has a little egg on its face and the best thing to do is shake hands and go on about business.
You are, of course, correct, George. I was too harsh with the current owners. That said, there are some obvious truths here that I suspect we can agree on: someone lied, someone cheated, someone made a lot of money doing it, and no one with regulatory oversight seems to have been paying attention. It’s difficult for me to believe that no one in Albany questioned what was going on when a warehouse was converted to apartments with no permits.
This last part is particularly troubling for me as I live in a rural Linn neighborhood that is cluttered by illegal dwellings, projects that proceed with no objection from those in power at the County. One County official cautioned me that they have to be conscious of the needs of the homeless, even though the building projects in question have nothing to do with homelessness. The lack of attention to rules is extremely frustrating. Basically, I just wish everyone had to follow the same rules when it comes to Building and Planning.
I agree with you John. It is a stretch too far of imagination to think that the original conversion was done one night by the dark of the moon.
And I agree about equal enforcement of rule and law. If I don’t like the rule or law I follow it and then complain, most often with little effect.
That location was for years the R. Veal & Son’s furniture location. There was a log pond, a saw mill, a drying kiln and of course the furniture making area. Made some great solid oak items. Until they had to start using particle board to curb costs.
If the site once was the site of a furniture company, the site’s soil is most likely contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals and other toxins.